The most famous mountain in South Bohemia is Klet’. Not for its height of 1087 metres, because there are dozens of higher hills in the nearby Šumava, but Klet’ is unique for its location. It dominates its mini-forest called Blanský Les, which looks as if a piece of Šumava has broken off and stepped towards České Budějovice. In this foray, Kluk, a long ridge rather than a hill, serves as a vanguard for Klet, which closes the valley of the Křemžský Brook from the north with the larger villages of Brloh and Křemží. From Kluk, there is a great view of Klet’, especially from the rocky top, where trees do not obstruct it. Klet’, the mystique of the most famous South Bohemian mountain.
To end up in Červeňák
Apart from Křemže, the northern foothills of Klet’ are also home to the villages of Holubov, Krásetín, Třísov and Plešovice, all of which are places from which you can go to Klet’. Apart from Krásetín, these are also railway stops. The southern slopes of Klet end a short distance from the Český Krumlov railway station, and further west lies Červený Dvůr with its famous alcohol treatment centre. To end up in Červenák is something everyone in South Bohemia understands.
Kleť resembles the back of a large fish swimming from west to east. The northern and southern slopes are steep, and it is worthwhile to climb them somewhat on the contour, while in the east and especially in the west, the climb is less steep. The ascent from the saddle called Nová hospoda, the road’s highest point from Chvalšin to Brloh, is particularly merciful.
In front of the fish head lies the Golden Crown (Zlatá koruna) Monastery, and the Vltava River meanders towards Budějovice. Not far from Zlatá Koruna is the village of Srnín, with its famous bakery. It was built as a backup bakery in case of war, deliberately outside the big cities. It is known for its excellent bread and not belonging to Babiš’s Agrofert. The two are connected.
The Cult of the Kleť
With its lonely position, Klet’a gives a majestic impression, and it is no wonder that it has always been an object of worship and associated with deities and cults. Its attractiveness is also increased by its proximity to larger towns, as from Krumlov, you can start a hiking trip directly from the bus stop and walk past the former barracks of the artillery regiment called “Senegalese Black Rifles”.
The cult of Kleti survives to this day. There is a cult called the Klet’aci, for whose members the peak of Klet’a is the same as Mecca for a Muslim. But while a Muslim only needs to visit Mecca once in a lifetime, the Klet’s try to climb their mountain as often as possible and their hardcore tries to do it almost daily. At the restaurant on the summit, you may notice a thick, fingering book on the window near the bar, which some newcomers open and write something down.
You’ve just seen Klet’s (Kleť man) because that book is their record of exits. The Kleť’ have an official club, “Klet Mountain Friends Club”, and their website, klubklet.eu, the most exciting part is probably the climbing statistics.
This passion has an extreme version called the “Himalayan Tiger”. Occasionally, there is an event with that name at Kleť, and if you can climb nine times a day, it counts as the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, and you get the appropriate certificate. The titles “Tatrák” or “Alpík” are awarded for smaller numbers. The record is thirteen ascents, which equals five and a half kilometres climbed—a good portion for one day.
UFOs at the Kleť
Apart from Klet’s people, various dreamers, fantasists and delighted people are also interested in the mountain. Celtic fanatics are installing fake menhirs here, and fans of extraterrestrial civilizations are looking for UFO landing sites. It’s just a lot of fun on Kleť.
The place called Štond has a unique position. It is a low stone building just a few steps with no interior space, a kind of stone step in the middle of the forest.
It is interesting mainly because it has yet to learn what it was used for. And that’s why it’s rife with theories from hunting gear to aliens. It used to be hard to find the Štond because it’s off the beaten track in the woods, but now even maps.cz shows it—no more romance.
Take a picture of Klet’
The cage is also the subject of many photographs and paintings, probably because many Budejovians can paint and photograph it right from the window. I have been photographing the Klet’ myself in this style for years. Of course, the hill is still the same, but the light, the vegetation on it and especially the sky change because Klet’, as the highest point in the surroundings, often creates atypical clouds above it and in winter months, the sun sets behind it when viewed from Budějovice.
The top of Kleť
There is a sturdy stone hut on the top of Kleť demanded, where you can drink, eat, and, with some luck, find a place to stay. The price for a double bed was for years the same as the height of the mountain, i.e. 1087 crowns. I don’t think this curiosity will last long, but the hut has hostel accommodation for about a third of the price. The chalet also cooks, and the garlic is worth recommending.
There is a stone lookout tower near the cottage, where you can see the entire Budějovice basin. However, antennas for digital DVB-T broadcasting have been added to the building, which has not added to its beauty. It is Bohemia’s first stone lookout tower and will soon celebrate 200 years. Interestingly, it was opened to the public after thirty years. Until then, it was a private attraction of the Schwarzenberg family. The interior of its floors is sometimes used for exciting exhibitions. There is an observatory next door.
TV tower Klet’
When viewed from afar, the prominent landmark of Klet’ is the 175-metre-high television transmitter. You can see it up close if you walk up or down the tarmac. Note its mooring ropes, which are so strong that you can see them even with weak binoculars from Budějovice, twenty kilometres away. Next to the big mast is another smaller one, which used to be used by the army for VHF communication. I still remember how, during a military exercise, the signallers used to point their antennas at it. I don’t know its current use, but the wooden house below belonged to the army until recently.
Because Klet’ is surrounded by managed countryside, its forests are interwoven with a dense network of trails that can create hikes of varying difficulty for the less and more fit.
Many of these trails pass through one of two points: the junction of the Pink Hill or the intersection of the Blue Picture. And since many cyclists are transported by car, the parking lot at Krásetín is a frequent starting point for the ride. The tarmac starts with a steep climb straight up the steep slope, but don’t be alarmed. Most other sections are much gentler, and a proper roof awaits you just before the top.
Most roads have a decent surface, asphalt or maintained gravel unless you hit a stand of trees where logging is taking place. If you rely on navigation, beware that you don’t want it to lead you from Pink Hill to the summit on the blue trail. It looks like a welcome shortcut on the map, but it’s a steeply rising rocky path excavated by erosion and is no fun to tread. You’d better take a shortcut.
Another section that will not please road cyclists is the path past the observatory and the rock inscription. A weathered rock juts out into the road, and stones of unpleasant size lie loose. Fortunately, this section is short and can be crossed in a pinch. However, the descent from the hut on the tarmac is undoubtedly more pleasant.
A short distance behind the TV tower transmitter, you will see a group of rocks on the right with several climbing routes equipped with fixed belays. The most famous is the Ladder Rock. It is just over ten metres high, but occasionally, someone falls off it and climbing it in cycling shoes is not recommended.
Cableway to Klet’
You can get your bike up to Klet’ without pedalling if the cable car is running because its operator can send your bike up simultaneously. Downhill enthusiasts mainly use this for kamikaze-style descents down steep slopes.
If you would like to try this pastime at any cost, be aware that Klet’ is a protected area and if that doesn’t stop you, don’t forget the rope of the makeshift lift stretched along the forest’s eastern edge around the Klet’ slope. The slope hasn’t been used since the last ice age, but that rope still holds and will surely stop you.
Klet’, the mystique of the most famous South Bohemian mountain. It is not a record-breaking height, but you will find many interesting things.